Northern Ireland will receive £4.4m of broadband funding to bring super-fast connectivity to new areas.
The investment was revealed by Jeremy Hunt, culture secretary for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on Monday. It is Northern Ireland's share — 0.8 percent — of the £530m fund to improve broadband infrastructure in the UK.
In the past 18 months, other projects in the area such as the Next Generation Broadband Project have already received £52m investment, nearly £30m of which came from BT. Hunt said that the fresh £4.4m would be used only to provide super-fast broadband for homes and businesses not covered by previous schemes.
"Broadband is essential for economic growth and increasingly for our everyday lives. Our investment will help provide everyone with decent broadband access and ensure no one is left behind in the digital age," Hunt said in a statement on Monday. Matching the investment will provide everyone in Northern Ireland with access to download speeds of at least 2Mbps, the DCMS added.
Hunt also said the government was considering a pilot to find the best way of providing high-speed connections to all business and residential broadband customers in Northern Ireland, but that it will be the Northern Ireland Executive that decides how best to use the money.
In May, the government distributed the first funds from the pledged £530m investment, allocating around £30m for Devon and Somerset, £15m for Norfolk and around £4m for Wiltshire. The money is being given to largely rural areas of the UK that would not normally attract investment from commercial ISPs due to low population density and the consequent distance the fibre would have to cover. Wales has also been allocated £57m from the £530m fund.
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